SURVIVING THE APPLEWHITES

From the Applewhites series , Vol. 1

Reminiscent of the loud, loving, eccentric family in Kaufman and Hart’s You Can’t Take It with You, the Applewhites are brilliantly talented and wildly adverse to mainstream mentality. As successful writers, directors, and artists, they are sure that their creative ideas will help a delinquent teen, Jake, turn away from destructive thinking and behavior and turn toward educational and personal interests that will teach him how to be happy. Even though E.D. admires her family’s brilliance, she knows they don’t have the patience and foresight to adequately plan for success; in fact, she’s the only one in the family with a creative talent for organization. Business and personal associates commonly come to visit, and many end up taking semi-permanent residence in the 16-acre paradise, adding to the already quirky group. Though they enjoy the luxury of pursuing their aspirations in the Applewhite’s comfortable home and modernized school, they are blinded by the Applewhite fame, taking E.D.’s skills for granted until the conflict of promoting Jake’s education and producing a well-known play sweeps everyone into a hurricane of activity and invention requiring the coordination that only E.D. can supply. Tolan (Flight of the Raven, 2001, etc.) systematically combines third-person narration and the semi-omniscient first-person narration of E.D. and Jake, ultimately resulting in well-built characterizations held together in a structure that smoothly organizes the chaos that busy artistic geniuses generate. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-623602-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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An engaging novel-in-poems that imagines one earnest, impassioned teenage girl’s experience of the Japanese-American...

DUST OF EDEN

Crystal-clear prose poems paint a heart-rending picture of 13-year-old Mina Masako Tagawa’s journey from Seattle to a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II.

This vividly wrought story of displacement, told from Mina’s first-person perspective, begins as it did for so many Japanese-Americans: with the bombs dropping on Pearl Harbor. The backlash of her Seattle community is instantaneous (“Jap, Jap, Jap, the word bounces / around the walls of the hall”), and Mina chronicles its effects on her family with a heavy heart. “I am an American, I scream / in my head, but my mouth is stuffed / with rocks; my body is a stone, like the statue / of a little Buddha Grandpa prays to.” When Roosevelt decrees that West Coast Japanese-Americans are to be imprisoned in inland camps, the Tagawas board up their house, leaving the cat, Grandpa’s roses and Mina’s best friend behind. Following the Tagawas from Washington’s Puyallup Assembly Center to Idaho’s Minidoka Relocation Center (near the titular town of Eden), the narrative continues in poems and letters. In them, injustices such as endless camp lines sit alongside even larger ones, such as the government’s asking interned young men, including Mina’s brother, to fight for America.

An engaging novel-in-poems that imagines one earnest, impassioned teenage girl’s experience of the Japanese-American internment. (historical note) (Verse/historical fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1739-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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